52 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
floor, moving between polished granite walls- that led upward for one hundred and fifty feet of unbroken ascent and whose two sides were lined with long slotted stone banks. At the end of the Gallery a high step suddenly blocked their way. They climbed it and walked across a level floor into a low narrow passage which brought them to an antechamber. A few more paces, a stoop beneath a solid portcullis, and they entered a large chamber which was located in the very heart of the Pyramid, being equidistant from all sides. This was the room which they later named "The King's Chamber," as they also called the first discovered room "The Queen's Chamber." But such names were never used by the ancient Egyptians,
The King's Chamber was walled with squared dark granite blocks of immense size. Its ceiling was formed of nine enormous beams of the same material, now known to be the largest stones in the whole Pyramid. One of them alone weighs seventy tons. How the builders ever got it into position, two hundred feet above ground level, without using our modern steam or electrical hoists, is a problem about which our own architects theorize but which they cannot solve.
The Caliph Al Mamoun and his men were again deeply disappointed. For, apart from an open stone coffin, the Chamber was entirely empty. The coffin contained nothing but dust.
It seemed incredible that the ancient Egyptians had built such a prodigious empty tomb as this Pyramid to no purpose, they thought, so they feverishly tore up part of the stone flooring, burrowed open one corner of the room, and hacked vainly at the solid walls in their fierce quest of hidden treasure. But they could not defeat the astuteness of those cunning early builders and eventually retired baffled, chagrined and disheartened.
Two more places were left for their exploration: the underground continuation of the original entrance passage and the deep narrow shaft. The first took them into a small tunnel, along which they had to make a rapid descent and in which it was easy for their feet to slip, for it had been cut downwards into the solid rock for a distance of no less than three hundred and fifty feet. It ended in a roughly hewn chamber whose roof was so low that it could be touched with the hands and whose unfinished rocky floor was so rugged that they had to clamber up and down to cross it. They named it "The Pit." It